Danville Express

Newsfront - June 15, 2007

Walnut Creek BART to go directly to SFO

Contra Costa County riders will no longer need to transfer at Balboa Park to go to San Francisco airport

by Jordan M. Doronila

Danville and Alamo residents may get a direct ride from their closest BART station to the San Francisco International Airport.

BART has proposed making its Pittsburg/Bay Point line, which stops in Walnut Creek, go directly to the San Francisco airport without the need to transfer. Dublin riders, who currently have a direct line to the airport, would then have to transfer as a result of the change. The BART board of directors was to vote on the proposal in Oakland on June 14.

Based on previous public discussions with other directors, Trustee Joel Keller said Tuesday he believes the board will approve the proposal.

"Everybody is served in that line," said Linton Johnson, BART chief spokesman about the Pittsburg route. "It doubles the amount of trains going down the peninsula and it cuts the wait time in half."

"It provides the majority of people who go to the airport with a direct service," he added.

Currently, BART's Dublin/Pleasanton line goes directly to the airport while riders on the Pittsburg line must transfer. Riders from Contra Costa County now are advised to transfer at Balboa Park.

The Dublin line transports approximately 600 a day to the San Francisco airport while the Pittsburg route carries 900 to 1,000, said Johnson. If the board approves the switch, the changes will take effect in January 2008.

"It's a simple switch," Johnson said. "For the vast majority, it's a great deal more convenient."

He said BART serves approximately 350,000 riders per day, and the Pittsburg line serves more passengers than Dublin.

Mayors, council members and town managers discussed the issue at their quarterly Tri-Valley Mayor's Council meeting, which included Danville, San Ramon, Livermore, Dublin and Pleasanton.

Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart noted the direct line to the airport had started out with the Contra Costa line then been changed to Dublin/Pleasanton.

"It's hard to build rider-ship when you jump back and forth," she said. "You don't develop any consistency."

She noted that the San Ramon Valley is growing, especially with business parks such as Hacienda in Pleasanton and Bishop Ranch in San Ramon.

"It's the fastest growing area, more rapidly than further north," she said. "We will work with them (BART staff). We just want to know who's on first."

Historically, BART designated the Pittsburg route as the direct line that leads to the airport, said Keller. Due to financial problems with the San Mateo Transit District, the direct line switched to Dublin.

The new switch may not make much of an impact in Danville, said Town Manager Joe Calabrigo. Some residents drive to Pleasanton, and others head to Walnut Creek, he said. Calabrigo, a Danville resident, said he personally uses the Walnut Creek and Lafayette stations because he finds more parking.

However, some Alamo residents are just minutes from the BART station in Walnut Creek.

The California Legislature approved the creation of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District more than 50 years ago. The BART system services Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. It built its SFO Millbrae Extension in 2003.

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com


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